Toronto starter Mark Buehrle fell trying to throw a pitch, balking in a run. Closer Casey Janssen didn't finish the ninth. Even Rogers Centre couldn't make up its mind, opening and then closing the dome.
When the dust had settled, the Blue Jays had defeated the lowly Texas Rangers 9-6 Sunday, securing the series win over the worst club in the majors.
The teams combined for 27 hits. But it was hardly a precision batting display.
Texas left nine men on base while going 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position. Toronto stranded eight and went six-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
Melky Cabrera answered a Texas comeback with a leadoff homer in the seventh inning and singled home two more runs in the eighth to lead the Jays.
Cabrera gave Toronto a 6-5 lead when he sent reliever Neftali Feliz's third pitch of the day deep to centre field. It was the left-fielder's 12th home run of the season, delighting the crowd of 36,011 on a 23-degree day.
One inning later, Munenori Kawasaki made it 7-5 with an RBI single after Toronto loaded the bases with one out on three singles. Then Cabrera slammed a single to right-centre to bring home Anthony Gose and Jose Reyes.
Toronto (51-49) has now won seven of the last eight completed series against Texas (39-59) at Rogers Centre.
Perhaps more importantly, the Toronto offence woke out of its slumber. The nine runs were the most by the Jays since they scored 14 on June 20 in Cincinnati.
Toronto, which had lost its last three series, also notched its first multi-homer game since July 2.
"We came to life today," said manager John Gibbons, who noticed a change in attitude early in the game.
"I felt a little more energy in the dugout. The guys seemed a little more relaxed, some funny comments. They've been grinding it pretty hard lately. It's been wearing on them."
Janssen, recovered from a stomach ailment, gave up three hits and a run in a nervous ninth and was replaced by Aaron Loup with two outs and men on first and second. The left-hander finally ended it by inducing former Jay J.P. Arencibia to pop out on a 3-and-2 pitch for his fourth save.
"I just didn't see that crispness coming out there," Gibbons said of Janssen, who converted 14 of 16 save opportunities in the first half of the season.
Left-hander Brett Cecil, coming on in the eighth with no outs and a man on second, snuffed out an earlier Rangers threat.
Cabrera went 3-for-5 and has now hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games and 23 of his last 28. He also made a fine catch in left field, snagging the ball at his shoe top.
"I just think the all-star break did him wonders," said Gibbons. "He's out there every day. It did most guys some good. He just needed to refresh a little bit. His hand, speed, bat speed looks a little bit better. That's the key to hitting, if you get a good swing. "
Buehrle did not look fresh as he went six innings in his eighth unsuccessful attempt to record a win since June 1.
"He was a little off," said Gibbons.
"It's too bad he hasn't had a win in so long," he added. "Because he's definitely pitched well enough to have a few more under his belt. But that's the way baseball is sometimes. There's no justice in this business."
The day wasn't all bad for Buehrle. He picked off two Rangers and is now five shy of tying Andy Pettitte for most career pickoffs (105). Plus he was headed to the Tim McGraw show after the game.
Todd Redmond (1-4) got the win for one inning in relief of Buehrle while Feliz (0-1) was tagged with the loss.
Down 5-2, the Rangers had rallied for three runs in the sixth to tie the score as the bottom of the order loaded the bases. The Buehrle balk and a Daniel Robertson two-RBI single made it a whole new ball game.
"That'll make the bloopers," said Gibbons.
Buehrle, who called it "embarrassing," said he went down because his cleat caught. He would have tried to throw the ball at the plate but was more concerned about not hurting himself going down.
"Obviously I haven't been as sharp as I want to be the last times I've been out. It hasn't been really that good. I don't know. Just a couple of those days. Don't want to have them but they're going to come in the course of season and (I) just need to turn it around."
Robertson, filling in for the injured Alex Rios, drove in a career-high four runs for the Rangers.
"Every time we scored, we just couldn't stop them," sad Texas manager Ron Washington, whose team's winning percentage slipped under .400 to .398.
"We've got to have some shutdown innings. We just couldn't get any shutdown innings after we put runs on the board. That's the one thing we certainly have to work hard to correct."
Earlier, catcher Dioner Navarro homered for Toronto and Reyes drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single in a game that saw both teams with plenty of chances to keep the scoreboard turning over.
It was a no-decision for Buehrle, who has posted an 0-5 record in his last eight outings to drop his record to 10-6. And this after reaching the 10-win mark faster than ever before in his career.
He gave up five runs on eight hits with five strikeouts and three walks in his 449th consecutive start, the longest active streak in the majors.
The left-hander, who came into the game with a 13-5 record in 20 career starts against the Rangers, made life difficult for himself in the second, third and fourth by putting the leadoff man on with two walks and a single.
But, two runs aside in the third, he cleaned up after himself until stepping into it again in the sixth.
Despite winning the series opener 5-1 Friday, the Rangers have been in a free fall for a while. They came into the game having lost nine of 10 and are now 2-14 in July, the fewest wins for any team in the majors.
However you stack them, the numbers are shocking. Texas has lost 16 of 18 and 24 of 28.
One explanation: Texas has used more players (51) and pitchers (30) than any other team this season. And the Rangers lead the majors in use of the disabled list (21) and current players on the DL (14). That explains the 15 rookies on the active roster.
Texas starter Nick Tepesch lasted 4 1/3 innings, giving up five runs on nine hits.
The Jays open a four-game homestand against the Boston Red Sox on Monday. Texas heads to New York to play the Yankees.
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